Monday, March 27, 2023


A “newbie’s” shifting perspective on RV etiquette

I am not a new “newbie,” but my perspective on RV etiquette is shifting. In 1999, I purchased a 26’ Winnebago Brave with the express purpose of traveling back and forth from California, where I had a home, to Kansas, where I was attending veterinary school. I never used the Winnie for recreational travel, but enjoyed using it when I needed to.

When I began traveling in the Winnie, I quickly learned the basic rules of etiquette when driving and when staying in RV parks: Turn your generator off when getting to camp. Be friendly and respectful of your neighbors and the condition of the campground. My dogs were on leash and I was very careful to clean up when they did their business. No loud parties (if you knew me, this was not a difficult rule to follow). Leave your site clean and litter-free. I routinely flashed lights for the truckers and other RVers when it was safe to change lanes. I got the same courtesy.

RVers are helpful and friendly

The first night on the road in Flagstaff, my neighbors helped us hook up the sewer, water and electricity. What I learned that night was that RVers are incredibly helpful and friendly and that people will go out of their way to help you.

This lesson held true for the next 20 years.

Fast forward to 2021. The Winnie died a peaceful death so it was no longer available for travel. So, as most of you know, I recently purchased a used 39’ Newmar toy hauler to move my large clowder of felines to California. Retirement was upon me and I had planned for many years to purchase another RV. I loved my time in the Winnie and enjoyed meeting fellow RVers. However, this time, I wanted to use the RV not only for moving but for recreational travel with my cats. I went about purchasing the Newmar entirely the wrong way. You can share my pain and get a modicum of amusement by reading the series in past articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

California dreamin’; California etiquette

The cats and I made it to California despite the stress and travails of a not-so-perfect RV. We have been living for the past few months in a lovely RV park in Palm Desert. It is quite busy this time of year because of the influx of Snowbirds and, based on the number of California license plates, recreational campers.

While living here, I have made some observations about what has changed (or not) about RVing and RVers. I know much has been written about this, so this is just my two cents. 

My faith in the faithful RVers is not shaken. I have met some wonderful people who have helped me and have shared their RV tips and woes. It reinforces my love for this community.

However, there is a clear “new” vibe. The number of brand-new luxury Class As and fifth-wheels is quite apparent. There are new shiny trucks, too. Good for the RV park but good for us, too? I hope so. I think the growing popularity of RVing will help in the long run. The influx from new RVers during the pandemic will settle down. But there will remain “new” converts who, I hope, will learn from their “elders”—not old, per se, but experienced. 

There is a lot of work to be done.

Etiquette to be learned

The most apparent thing I noticed is people walking through occupied sites. I was taught this is very rude. How do you teach the newbies this? If one is outside enjoying the weather, politely pointing out the breach of etiquette is, of course, the thing to do. However, I admit a bit of apprehension about this. Anger in our society today is spilling into the RV community and one risks suffering the onslaught of a diatribe if an attempt is made. 

Tony Barthel wrote here about the RV lights left on all night. I turn my patio lights off at 9:00 p.m. to respect my neighbors’ quality of sleep. Most RVs have blackout shades, but I still think it polite to kill the lights. The LED lights are burning bright all around me and all night long, so my sense of politeness is not shared by many others.

There are so many dogs at the park

With very few exceptions, they are on leashes and their owners are being respectful of the rules. However, I have seen a few dogs loose and when I warned one RVer that their dog was loose, I got a dirty look and a dismissive hand gesture. Not cool. The park has dog parks, so loose dogs are a gross flaunting of the rules. Here is Gail Marsh’s post on dos and don’ts regarding dog park etiquette.

The same applies to children: unsupervised children running through campsites, riding bikes on grass and generally not being careful on the roads filled with huge motor vehicles. This is especially scary at night. My sister almost hit a kid riding with his dad between sites and into the road with oncoming traffic. It shook up my sister (in a tiny Honda fit) quite a bit. This is a wonderful setting for children to play, but parents must supervise and make sure they are safe and respectful of their neighbors.

I had a conversation with my sister about the etiquette in the park. I opined that the influx of new RV owners could be to blame for bad behavior and that over time they will learn. My sister thought it was a symptom of the overall increase in anger, intolerance, and rudeness in society. She attributes a lot to a dangerous sense of entitlement, but I hope she is wrong.

I will be moving into my house soon but hitting the road again this spring. I will look forward to meeting new people and sharing this wonderful life of RVing.




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25 days ago

I was taking my St. Bernard out for one last walk of the evening around 9 p.m. and heard a kid screaming and yelling. He was about eight and had been riding his bike in the dark with no lights and had hit some gravel and went down. His knees, shins, elbows, and palms were pretty scraped up and he was in pain. I called the campground owner to find out where this kid belonged. He was screaming so much he couldn’t answer me. We found the parents. Asleep in their camper, all the lights out. They had gone to bed and left the kid outside. Their comment? Well, we left the door unlocked so he cold get back in. Wow!

1 month ago

Dear Karel,

I hate to tell you but I think she is right! It is not just “newbie” RVers, it is everybody! They drive terribly, they’ll tell you off in a second if you even dare to point out any wrongdoings. My roommate and the main driver is always yelling at people (sometimes even rolling down the window to do so). This scares me something fierce because here in Texas ANYBODY can carry a gun! I’m afraid he’ll get him/me/us shot!!!

I’m 74 (and will be 75 in about 20 days) and I SEE the changes. I was NOT raised the way younger people seem to have been. I was raised to respect others (especially my elders) and their things!

I miss my good old days!

26 days ago
Reply to  Lindalee

Agree. My wife pointed out that yelling at a driver or beeping the horn may get us both shot with the way some are, road rage. It carries over to RV parks and Sn B as well.

1 month ago

When discussing this subject over and over everyone seems to forget the new attitude of people today.


Willa R
7 months ago

The things you describe in your article and that I read in the comments are the reasons I don’t stay in state parks in the summer, or in parks with swimming pools and playgrounds any time of year. I also use apps like Campendium and read the reviews carefully. If someone complains that rules are not enforced, I don’t camp there.

25 days ago
Reply to  Willa R

I agree, in respect to the rules not being adhered to. All the rules, regulations and laws are of no use if they are not enforced. Watching park employees drive by violator’s all times of the day and night, and doing nothing about it is so discouraging.

Bob M
7 months ago

I was camping at Four Mile Creek State park in NY. My site and the sites around me were lake front on Lake Ontario, but had some trees / brush in front of the lake. I was surprised to see people cut across our sites. My neighbors site had a good view. One guy walked over on her site to take pictures. Boy did she tell them about staying off her campsite. I guess she paid $500. for two weeks for the site. I also notice at two campground, campers had their dogs untied. It was just a couple. I always keep mine leashed.

7 months ago

Articles like this and the comments may go a long way to educating the new folks to Rv’ing. Like anything else – there is a learning curve and time needed – so discussion and opinions by us “Elders” can certainly enlighten. Now we just need to get everyone to read the articles! (Like the old saying – “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him/her drink.” )

7 months ago

I think many campers aren’t even aware they walk through your site. We had someone in a site to the rear of ours who was doing this. To discourage him we put my chairs across our site- mostly blocking the route through. We were sitting out there and the guy comes through- having to turn sideways and scooching between me and the rig. There’s a clear paved path not even 30′ from our site to use. I’ve experienced other behavior like this too. Not knowing how people are- I hesitate saying anything to them- my fault I guess but I value my safety. I try to ignore it but when people actually turn to look in your windows- it’s amazing. I think you have to have parents who teach you these things early but those people don’t exist anymore.

Jesse Crouse
7 months ago

It is the change of what is considered proper behavior that is changing the RV world. If I have to tell you what is proper, common courtesy do me a favor and stop at another RV park. You are NOT entitled to be a rude , obnoxious JERK.

Bob p
7 months ago

IMHO, inflation is the root of all evil when it comes to lack of manners. Years ago when inflation caused both parents to have to work to support their families and some had to work 2 jobs, the raising of children fell to TV and video games if one of the children was old enough to “supervise” their siblings. No adult guidance was really given, mom and dad come home tired and uptight about their daily experiences at work so children didn’t get the nurturing and guidance necessary to make them responsible adults, now they are raising their children the way they were raised and even less manners are being taught. I’m glad I’m old enough to have been raised by parents who were able to properly raise kids. I followed in their footsteps and raised my children like I was raised, my children tried to raise theirs like they were raised but influence from other children has made a difference. Now my great grandchildren are coming under the influence of what I spoke of earlier. Just my opinion.

Robert L Loudin
24 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

All very spot on. No manners being taught = no respect for anything or anybody. Fast forward a couple of generations and all that you mention is true. Each over lapping generation continues to be a little worse. It won’t end because they don’t know that anything is wrong with their actions.

Dick Hime
1 year ago

Well written and tactful article. Common courtesy, personal responsibility, and respect begin at home long before one owns an RV. If it didn’t happen then, it’s not likely to become ingrained easily into a person of “adult” age, even if not of “adult” maturity, simply because they begin to RV. Clearly the author is of the former type rather than the latter. She started out right and polished her demeanor with the advice of others who had these desirable characteristics of society. Sometimes military service can instill these qualities if families haven’t but, being a combat veteran, I can say that sometimes military service also increases negative behavior. Having also been a law enforcement officer, I know too well how many warped psychological and behavior profiles there are. So, at age 74, my best friend of 54 years and I will continue to meet wonderful people while RV’ing and deal with those who aren’t so wonderful in the best way we can within God’s and man’s laws.

K Schuld
1 year ago

I am posting for the first time on this site. I have been reading the very helpful articles and opinions for three years and I felt it was finally time to comment. You see I am one of the “newbies”. I have a “shiny new truck” and a brand new fifth wheel. I also have two dogs. I am a “glamper” as you call us.

I began RV’ing last summer and I have met many wonderful people. However, I find a different type of experience than the one you describe. “I notice you must be new to this. I hope you follow the rules better than the way you back up.” This is typical of comments we here. We have heard comments from long time RVers at every park we have been too. Most, before we even get a chance to set up.

I would never walked through another persons site, not pick up after my dog, or keep my lights on after curfew. Please don’t judge all “newbies” in the same light. Character faults are what lead to the issues you are all describing, not “shiny” trucks or fancy new fifth wheels.

K Schuld
1 year ago

Thank you for your kind reply. Also, thank you for listening. Just look at some of the comments below and you will further see my point. Apparently driving a new RV with lots of bells and whistles makes me entitled. You see I think we have to be careful how we make our points. I agree with you that rude is rude and in my opinion, it goes both ways. I want to respect the knowledge of the experienced RVer, I just want that same respect in return.

7 months ago
Reply to  K Schuld

Hey, come park next to me. I will offer all the help you need if you ask or it is obvious i can relieve your pain. If you don’t want it, that’s ok. But you are welcome to help me drink some beer if you like and we can talk about anything except politics as that a great way to make an enemy. If you want a fully loaded unit, that is good with me. I know people with the same taste, we have a small unit that is enough to keep us out of the weather and comfy, all we need. Oh, the guy who criticizes the way you backup is short on memory and does not deserve your time. I hope you continue to meet some great RV’ers. Good travels.

Dennis Johnson
7 months ago
Reply to  K Schuld

Man, people and their “holier than thou” comments! I’ve backed a variety of campers into a variety of sites in my 67 years, but never would I criticize someone for their attempt(s). If they’re having major trouble I might lend some friendly advice. I have even been asked if I would do it for them. We’ve all been in their shoes but seem to forget that.

1 year ago

We tent camp and now have a Quick Silver livin light tent camper at campgrounds (not RV parks). Neither has blackout curtains, and leaving the lights, even LED string lights on makes it almost impossible to get to sleep. It’s inconsiderate and rude.

1 year ago
  • Nope. It’s their sense of entitlement, engrained thru their educational experience.
1 year ago

For walk-thru folks, engage them in a conversation. Ask LOTS of questions. They are most probably on their way to some place and in a hurry so delaying them will “encourage” them to walk somewhere else instead of through your site. Might as well have fun with them.

Pam LoCoco
1 year ago
Reply to  volnavy007

Excellent suggestion.

1 year ago
Reply to  Pam LoCoco

Even better, ask them to join your obscure and obnoxious religion or political group.

RV Staff
1 year ago
Reply to  Pam LoCoco

I’m sure CFerguson wasn’t referring to “your” group, Pam. Just referring to the campsite resident asking the trespasser to join the resident’s group. Yep, I think that would deter them from trespassing through a campsite again. 🙂 –Diane

Lex V
1 year ago

We live in an RV park in Anaheim Hills and I have to say…your sister’s take is correct. These people who are flouting rules and being rude are completely entitled. They come here from nearby communities (you can tell by their license plate frames where they bought their vehicles and its not far away) and turn their kids and animals loose while they party with friends and flout pandemic and park rules. I’ve even seen gatherings of 3 percenters and others flying gadsden flags in the wake of Jan 6. They are pretty ruthless in their rudness these groups.

It’s very sad to see because originally we’d found RVers both full time and recreational to be the nicest folks. Now we view each new rig coming in to spaces near us with great caution and wariness.

1 year ago

If I turn up the radio in my car too loud, I can be ticketed for noise ordinance violation. But when I am in my RV, apparently there are no real “rules.” Just suggestions. That is why we have what we have — ” because I can!” On private property, there is no real way to enforce those suggestions. In a national/state/local park, if it violates any public property law then it can be enforced (doesn’t mean it will be since rangers have their hands full already).

1 year ago

Hi ! Rudy here and I did RV ing in my 2500 Chevy 3/4 ton with self contained camper. Truck broke down with 200000 miles and I’m breaking down at 81. But boy what a ride.

Went to Burning man , fun fun fun and Amazing . Oh my what I was a part of.
Then on the beach in Westport Washington for 3 summers . Found stones and beach glass , crabs and salmon, razor clams ,oysters. And winter! Och. but then Quartzite Arizona in winter , joined rock club, senior club, gold mine, BLM camp.
People I met from Penmsylvania, Chicago, Minnesota farmer who hadn’t left the farm sence he was 14 and now 75. Some passed, some were sick but not ready to pass.
Mexico from Quartzsite is but 70 miles and open air restaurant with Margarita, chillereallo, taco de Cerones, Musical groups every where. Camp for FREE next to to American canal,

1 year ago

I think the big problem is, is that many of these RV glampers have never camped in a tent before, and never learned the basics of camp etiquette as a kid.

They buy these really expensive RVs with all the bells and whistles and, thus, think they are entitled to use them all, when ever and however they like – to the detriment of their neighbours.

As one poster suggested, the way to address it, is to have someone give a short intro, provide the rules in paper, and do regular walk abouts.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jeanne

I full-timed with someone for a few years in nice, new Class A. He’d never spent a night in a tent or an RV before. I never had to point out basic campground etiquette. I attributed that to his being a decent human, which I’d argue is far more rare than the number of folks who’ve seen the inside of a tent these days.

Robin Pack
1 year ago

I’m new to the rv thing and recently doing it full time in a just shy of 24′ travel trailer. Have been parked at a great new resort for a bit over a month now, probably a bit pricey for a spot to park however it’s an extended pull through. Hey, it’s half the cost of my prior mortgage so I’m good with it. Hearing a lot of folks packing up around sundown, wth, really? Close up shop when it’s getting dark out, not understanding that, whatever. What I mean by hearing, power tools to raise jacks and hammering on whatever they are removing, a {bleeped} moment runs through my head. In getting to the clubhouse there may be one or two vacant spots along the way, I stay on the road regardless rather than cutting through those spots. Mind you, the entire resort is a concrete pad with grassy areas between sites, gated, on site patrol, clubhouse, laundry, gym, pool and beer garden with a fire pit area, on site propane exchange too. Only thing missing is a grocery store…

1 year ago

The ones that get me are the people who come in late and make massive noise trying to park in the dark. Or they don’t know how to park and knock on my door to move my truck out of my site so they can use my space.
I’m full time and work from home so both these disruptions are costly. Use to be common courtesy to park before dark but also it’s safer to park before dark. I have had to park after dark and in those emergency cases I get a pull through for the night, close my doors quietly and only hookup electric. I won’t even lower my jacks.
I would never knock on someone’s door to have them move out of their spot for me. That is truly mind blowing. If it’s too tight to park then practice more or go to the office and say you don’t fit. This has only been a thing since the newbie pandemic wave. Seriously mind blowing.

1 year ago
Reply to  Josie

I would much rather someone ask me to move my vehicle, than hit it while trying to park their big rig.

7 months ago
Reply to  Nick

thats why they make lawyers.

Betty D.
25 days ago
Reply to  Josie

We usually boondock, one night stands at local racetracks. So we have the set up/tear down perfected. One night we pulled into a real campground about 12:30 am. We backed in, hooked up, set up awning and chairs, walked the dogs then went to bed. I was up early with the dogs when the man camped next to us came out. He said “When did you pull in” and “I didn’t hear a thing” You don’t have to make a lot of noise; you just have to be efficient.

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